The environmental health of a garden can be measured by the number of native species compared to the number of non-native species of birds. According to this criterion my garden is pretty healthy because I have seen lots of native birds around lately and not so many introduced species.
I thought I’d make a list of all the birds I’ve ever seen in the garden.
Common Mynah: these are my least favourite birds. They are very aggressive. I have seen them gang up on other birds and chase them away. Their voice is not pleasant, consisting of loud growls and other harsh sounds. So I’m delighted not to have seen them around for a few months.
Spotted Turtle-Dove: although an introduced species I do welcome them. I have written several posts on these birds. Pigeons have been loved and valued at times in history but are currently getting a bad rap. I love their soothing peaceful cooing voices.
Laughing Kookaburra: I saw a kookaburra sitting on the back fence on one single occasion, years and years ago. Then it flew away never to return. I guess there are no snakes for it to eat in my garden. Maybe just as well … and it didn’t laugh either!
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo: I was delighted that this wild bird was so friendly and I fed it. One day I came home and heard a chipping noise. The cockatoo was pecking away at the window ledge and had already half destroyed the wooden frame. I regretfully chased it away and no cockatoo was ever encouraged to visit or stay again.
Common Blackbird: Introduced to Australia in 1862, these birds feel like family since several chicks hatched on our deck last spring. You can click on this link to see the pics. I am very fond of blackbirds. I often see them scrabbling away in the mulch. They seem very established and at home in the garden. Their song consists of lovely melodious phrases.
Owl: On two nocturnal occasions I saw an owl sitting still and silent on a tree branch. I think it must have been a Southern Boobook. After that I put up an owl nesting box but I have not yet seen a sign that it is inhabited.
Australian Magpie: Their sound is a loud musical carolling, often in duets or larger groups. They can be aggressive and attack people when they are nesting – luckily I have had no problems with this so far.
Australian Raven: I usually see them in pairs. Their call is loud and deep, and they of course are large and black.
Rainbow Lorikeet: these colourful parrots have been around for years but they appeared in large noisy groups every day last summer, eating the nectar from the flowers on the tall eucalypt tree.
Pied Butcherbirds: According to my book on native Australian birds butcherbirds are possibly the best singer of all Australian birds, making beautiful melodious piping sounds. They are also fierce predators on small animals and birds. That is why they have such a strong large hooked bills – all the better to eat you with, my dear …
Striated Thornbill: Tiny birds moving in flocks, continually darting and chittering. Maybe the rapid darting is to escape the fearsome butcherbirds described above.
Red Wattlebird: these are frequent visitors to the garden. They share the eucalypt flowers with the lorikeets and they also hang upside and eat the nectar from the brachysema flowers and the various leptospermums. They get their name from the fleshy reddish wattle on the side of their neck. Their calls are not musical – they cough, and call out “yak yak” in a harsh tone.
Sources: A Photographic Guide to Birds of Australia, by Peter Rowland, published by the Australian Museum,1995. Photos from Wikipedia, Morguefile and me.
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